Student interventions at Open House 2015

Martina Salvin 1
Martina Salvin – Space-time (2015) Mirrors, Perspex

As part of this year’s Open House event, current full-time Visual Arts students were invited to submit proposals for artworks to be displayed during the weekend celebrations. Building upon students’ existing practices and enhancing their experience of exhibition opportunities, proposals were encouraged to be specific to West Dean House, particularly those areas along the Open House route. As well as giving students a chance to engage with the fascinating history of the Estate and the James family, especially the Surrealist connections associated with Edward James, they were also free to focus on less obvious details within the setting of the house. Through elements as diverse as an architectural feature, a view from a certain window, or an individual image on the wall, exhibitors could tap into their own historical or contemporary concerns.

A number of students responded, suggesting all manner of interventions at different locations. Three proposals were eventually selected and installed, all drawing on very different ideas, materials and methods. The works are distributed at various points along the route: the Tapestry Corridor, the Old Library and the balcony above the Oak Hall.

Martina Salvin Open House 01
Martina Salvin – Space-time (2015) Mirrors, Perspex

Martina Salvin, MFA Year 1

Space-time consists of an internally reflective mirror cube with a series of shapes cut into the sides. The shapes have been extracted from the geometric design of a clock-face. The piece aims to use the contradiction of capturing space within a cube whilst simultaneously expanding it. The viewer is presented with multiple external and internal spaces, with the implication that they are also presented with multiple times. As 2015 is the centenary year of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, exhibiting an artwork that has the nature of space-time at its heart seemed appropriate.

Martina Salvin’s practice explores different conceptions and perceptions of time. Her background research has consistently emphasised the artifice of ‘the clock’, despite its dominance over our lives. It is our positioning in the universe that determines where we are both in space and time, and not the precise measuring apparatus we are surrounded by. By focusing on the measurement of time in our regimented daily routines, we avoid contemplating the meaning of time until we are prompted to reconsider it. The aim of Martina’s work is to act as such a prompt.

Laura Scrivener Open House 01
Laura Scrivener – Ligne (2015) Hair and fibre, dimensions variable
Laura Scrivener Open House 02
Laura Scrivener – Ligne (2015) Hair and fibre, dimensions variable

Laura Scrivener MFA Year 1

Laura Scrivener trained as a professional hairdresser and has always been intrigued by the history, customs and cultural significance that surround hair. This ongoing interest and background training have since been incorporated into her artistic practice. Laura’s work explores how the female body has been, and is, objectified, idealised and fetishized. The use of plaited hair in her work symbolises a containment of the feminine and seeks to raise questions as to the types of restriction placed upon women in contemporary society. The image of the plait suspended from the balcony also stirs up recollections of myth, such as the fable of Rapunzel. Presented with such an image, the audience becomes the voyeur, gazing at deconstructed femininity.

Sarah Cliff Open House 01
Sarah Cliff – Agave (2015) Terracotta, carved wood, cotton
Sarah Cliff Open House 02
Sarah Cliff – Agave (2015) Terracotta, carved wood, cotton

Sarah Cliff, Graduate Diploma

“King Pentheus of Thebes established a society based on rules, regulation and citizenship. Women had no representation except through their male relatives. There was little regard for fun. Even the King’s mother, Agave, was oppressed. It was only a question of time before the arrival of Dionysus, the God of Pleasure, would shake the women from their complacency, tempt them to abandon their weaving looms and throw off their domestic servitude to frolic in the mountains.”